When it comes to dogs, cats, and even the occasional rabbit, most individuals are relatively familiar with the type of care that these pets require. These animals are common in many households, but when it comes to a crested gecko, what kind of care does it need?
Crested geckos should have a habitat that is an imitation of what their natural environment looks like, should be fed every other day with live-food, fruit, premixed powder, or a combination, and can be handled every day or every other day for 15-20 minutes once acclimated to their new environment.
Crested geckos are not the most common house pet, therefore it may take a bit of studying to familiarize yourself with the kind of care they need. They are not difficult pets to have within your home, but there are a few particulars that should be adhered to in order to ensure the best life for your crested gecko. Continue reading to see what a crested geckos enclosure should look like, what they eat, and how they should be handled.
What Should a Crested Gecko’s Enclosure Look Like?
Before getting into the day-to-day care of a crested gecko, you first need to think about the immediate environment that your crested gecko is going to be brought into when they enter your home. Crested geckos are reptiles that originate from the lush tropical rainforests of New Caledonia that are dense with various plants and constantly moist due to the ever-present rain and humidity. Because of this, the vivarium in your home should mimic these conditions.
Crested geckos do not need an overwhelming amount of space to live happily and maintain healthy activity. A 20-gallon take is a great size for adult crested geckos and will give them plenty of room to explore, hide, and snooze. Because crested geckos originated from a hot and humid area, you may be inclined to believe that they need a basking bulb to keep their environment toasty, but this is not typically the case.
Crested geckos do need an area that they are able to bask in and get a bit of warmth, but all that is needed here is a nice rock to stretch themselves out on and a heating mat attached to the nearest glass panel or under the tank beneath the basking rock. As long as the vivarium is not placed in an area that is abnormally cold, your crested gecko will do just fine as far as the overall temperature of its cage is concerned.
Crested geckos are also creatures that love a good hiding spot just as much as they love climbing. They don’t want to spend their days resting on the floor of their vivarium, but need at least a few sturdy hard-wood pieces within their environment to allow them to climb as well as a good amount of leafy plants to give them plenty of space to tuck themselves away. These plants should be spritzed daily to keep the environment moist.
Crested geckos need a humid and moist environment not only to ensure their comfortability, but also to give them plenty of opportunity for hydration. More often than not, crested geckos drink the water droplets from the leaves within their vivariums to quench their thirst rather than through the actual water bowl. Even so, the water bowl should also always be filled with fresh water to give them plenty of options for intake.
How Should a Crested Gecko be Fed?
The biggest initial hurdle to get over with your crested gecko is to make sure that their vivarium within your home is set up properly. The process may seem a tad extensive, but keep in mind that after you have the environment established, it is only upkeep thereafter. Once you have their living space completed, you need to begin thinking about what a crested gecko eats in captivity and how often they need to be fed.
What Does a Crested Gecko in Captivity Eat?
Crested geckos in the wild have a very diverse diet. They scourge the rainforest floors for a variety of different insects, fruits, fruit juices, and even the remnants of small vertebrate prey. They are not tied to only one food group and this can be mirrored for your own crested gecko in captivity. This gives you the ability to feed your gecko with food that offers them a treat that breaks up a feeding routine that may seem a little monotonous.
Crested geckos as pets do great with different insects like grasshoppers, locusts, snails, discoid roaches, silkworms, and butterworms (to name a few). They are also more than happy to take a bite out of mashed, ripe fruits like watermelon, bananas, papayas, dates, plums, blueberries, and figs. Crested geckos love a little variety, but if you find yourself wanting to stick to a more basic (and still nutrient-filled) food, there are other options.
Crested geckos, although happy to have a little change-up in their daily diet, can live well and even thrive on the premixed powder that has been designed for them. This powder has all the nutrients that they need and can sustain them without any kind of opposition from your lizard friend. Simply mix the powder with water in their feeding bowl, set it within their habitat, and watch them eat to their heart’s content.
How Often Should a Crested Gecko in Captivity be Fed?
Now that you know what your crested gecko needs in order to be well-fed, it is important to feed them at the right time of day as well as be careful to not over or underfeed them. Crested geckos are not super particular about their food, but there are certain times of day that they will be more apt to eat. Even more, they are also not the type of pet to gorge themselves and need plenty of time to digest their previous meal before filling their bellies again.
As far as how often you feed your crested gecko, they should typically be fed every other day. This feeding should also be only once, rather than multiple times throughout the day. They are not the type of animal that needs to be fed morning and night and get more than enough with one feeding every other day. It may be tempting to feed them more often than this, but this could lead to wasted food and even weight problems if the gecko regularly accepts the food.
When it comes to when your crested gecko should be fed, this is important to ensure that they are most willing to eat and that food will not go to waste or become stale or hardened sitting there for an extended period of time. Crested geckos are nocturnal creatures so it is rare that you will see them throughout the day. This is normally the time they are snoozing and will very rarely come out for a midday snack.
Because of this, you want to feed your crested geckos in the evenings when you know they are awake and rummaging about. This is especially true for live food as it makes it easier for them to spot the food immediately rather than the insect potentially scampering away and dying in a remote corner of their habitat. Feeding your crested gecko in the evening increases their likelihood of eating and minimizes food waste.
How Should a Crested Gecko be Handled?
There are many geckos out there that, although great within their vivariums, are not too fond of being handled by humans. It would make sense as their natural instincts do not direct them towards humans, but more often tell them to run away. However, the crested gecko is one of the few geckos that are actually perfectly content to be taken up in the (gentle) hands of their owners and very rarely will try to buck the handler.
When you first bring your crested gecko home, give them time to acclimate to their surroundings at first. It is so tempting to try to handle them often during this period in order to familiarize yourself with your new pet, but give them a little time to get comfortable with their new living space, their new schedule, and regular interaction with you as you feed them, clean their habitat, and keep up their vivarium.
During this transition time, handle them only 1-2 times per week. Once they have had about a month to get comfortable, you can then increase your handling times. Increase these times based on how your crested gecko seems to be taking the experience. If you are handing them every other day and they are very anxious or even blatantly opposed to being taken from their habitat, decrease the times and let them have their space.
Once your crested gecko seems comfortable with you, you can handle them every other day (or even every day if they are happy to oblige) for 15-20 minutes or as long as they are content to sit with you. Never try to roughly catch them if they are clearly trying to avoid your hands as this can cause them to drop their tails out of defense. The tail will not grow back and this can cause them balance issues.
Remember that a crested gecko is not one that can be house trained like a cat or a dog. Therefore, it is likely that they will poop on you when handling. This may propel you to immediately place them back into their cage, but try to avoid this reaction. They are smart and will then continue this behavior in order to avoid handling. Let them know they are safe, be gentle with your touch, and always be sure to watch for cues of stress or anxiousness.